The Eastern Shore (VA) Anglers Club was founded in 1961 by a group of local anglers whose goal was to organize a surf fishing team to participate in the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament. It seems that a few local fellows were curious as to the destination of numerous vehicles sporting long spinning rods and heading south on old Route 13. Eventually, the driver of one of these vehicles was asked where everybody was heading and the results of that conversation ignited the spark that developed into the Eastern Shore’s longest continual running angler’s club!
The early members must have known what they were doing, because in the second year of competition, the local team placed second in the prestigious tournament. Today, the ESAC team is considered among the country’s top surf fishing teams, having captured the Hatteras tournament title in 1994, 1996 and 2002. In addition, teams composed of members of the ESAC captured the 1995, 1996, 1998, and 1999 Virginia Beach Surf Fishing titles as well as the Tournament Top Individual Angler Award in 1995 and 1998.
But there is more to this club than surf fishing; one of the club’s primary functions is its annual fishing contest. This contest runs the full year and is free to all members. Award are presented to the top two heaviest entrees in each of 26 different species (fresh and saltwater), plus certificates are given to members releasing any of 15 different species. Eligible fish may be caught from the water of Delaware Bay to North Carolina.
In addition, The ESAC awards special trophies for the following categories: angler of the year, Outstanding Lady Angler, Outstanding Junior Angler (male and female), Outstanding Catch, Release Angler of the Year and Freshwater Angler of the Year. To be eligible for the special trophies, an angler must attend two club functions a year.
These trophies, certificates, and award are presented at the Annual Awards Banquet, which is customarily held on the first Saturday evening in March. The banquet is an event in itself and features an outstanding traditional Eastern Shore roast beef and seafood dinner which is usually attended by several outdoor media personalities.
The ESAC also sponsors a series of monthly outings or one day mini-tournaments. These outings feature a variety of targeted species and angling methods which include largemouth bass/bluegill, spring speckled trout, flounder, red drum, striped bass and (of course) barrier island surf fishing.
These outings are usually free to members with the angler supplying his own bait and tackle. When a boat is required, the anglers chip in to cover expenses. The club usually has enough members’ boats to carry all of the participants. Outing participants accumulate points and the three highest point winners of the year receive trophies and merchandise certificates, which are also presented at the awards banquet.
The club’s monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of each month with the exceptions of June, July and August. The awards banquet serves as the March meeting and everybody is busy fishing in June, July and August! When possible, an interesting and informative speaker or how-to segment is featured at each meeting. The meetings begin at 7:30 pm and are held at the Sage Restaurant in the meeting room, located at 25558 Lankford Hwy in Onley, Va.
The club’s current membership is approaching 500 and much of the club’s success is due to its no frills approach and its ability to hold its membership costs down to ridiculously low levels for individual or the whole family! The membership runs the spectrum, from world class and corporate-sponsored anglers to beginners who just want to learn about where and how to fish the local water.
If you fall somewhere between these two categories of anglers and are interested in becoming part of the Eastern Shore Anglers Club, the club’s address is: ESAC, P.O. Box 415, Accomac, Va. 23301